This piece is inspired by a Money Saving Mom blog post that details what seemingly normal things her family doesn’t spend money on. Her list included shaving cream, soda, paper towels, movies, dryer sheets/fabric softener, coffee filters/K-cups and cable TV.

I started to think about my family and how we spend differently from the much maligned Joneses. We are obsessively careful about daily expenditures, but we also spend a lot of money on certain wants that another family might consider scandalous.

Eight Things My Family Doesn’t Buy

  1. Disposable household products such as paper towels, paper napkins, menstrual supplies and disposable dishware. We use cloth napkins, rags and crocheted squares to minimize disposables in the kitchen. I have a $30 menstrual cup that’s been in use for over six years, and is likely to last until I hit menopause. We have enough dishes that we’ve never had to resort to paper plates or cups, even when hosting large gatherings. When my sons were little and set up lemonade stands, we still just used our kitchen mugs.
  2. Adult Gifts. I couldn’t exactly say when it happened, but my husband and I stopped exchanging birthday and holiday gifts awhile back. We’ve been together for almost 28 years, and neither of us feel the need to go through the motions and shop for gifts we can neither afford nor have much interest in. This was harder for my husband than it was for me, but I really don’t need another set of socks or a teapot. We also had conversations with our adult family members and agreed to stop exchanging Christmas gifts. We all have established households and it had become a meaningless and expensive routine that no longer felt pleasurable.
  3. Snack Food. We cook almost entirely from scratch, and we always prepare enough food to provide leftovers, which are highly prized. Even though we have two teenage boys, there’s always enough to eat. And if someone is hungry and doesn’t like what’s in the fridge, they can always grab a piece of fruit, scramble some eggs, make a grilled cheese sandwich or toast up some bread. This means no pizza rolls, crackers, chips or any other food marketed as “snack food.”
  4. Individually packaged drinks. My family almost exclusively quenches our thirst with tap water, although in the summer I’ll make sun tea that appeals to no one except me. My husband drinks coffee, which he grinds and then filters through a reusable gold filter that I bought at Goodwill, and the kids and I drink Red Rose tea. No one drinks milk unless there’s cake or brownies involved. So there’s no soda, juice boxes, adult juices or similar. My husband will occasionally buy local beer, but he’s mostly too tired from work to drink anything alcoholic.
  5. Fashion. My husband and I care 0.0% about what our clothes say about us. As long as our clothes are clean and well fitting, we’re good to go. Neither of us ever shop for clothes recreationally, and we tend to wear our clothing until it’s fit for the rag bag. Needless to say, we repair instead of replace and there’s been 0.0% negative impact on our careers or social lives.
  6. Corporate vacations. We’ve never taken our families to anything Disney or a resort. I know these types of vacations are very much entrenched in many people’s family cultures, (and I’m not judging those for whom this is important) but I have zero interest in spending thousands of dollars for a couple days of crowded amusement park. Instead we either stay at a friend’s $65 a night Oregon coast cabin or we visit my sister in New York City when we’re already on the east coast. Last year my husband and I were flown out to Washington D.C. by his employer, so we bought tickets for the kids and then took the Bolt Bus up to NYC to extend the trip. And when I was flown to NYC for The Today Show, I expanded the trip on both ends to stay with friends in NYC and New Hampshire.
  7. Paying others to do what we can do for ourselves. Although it would be amazing to pay a professional contractor to complete our household projects, it’s simply not worth the debt it would entail. My husband and I do all the work on our house, and we mow our own lawn, prepare our own taxes, bake our own cakes, clean our own house, change our own oil and maintain our own belongings. I cut my husband’s hair, and I cut the boys’ hair until middle school when they started wanting specific cuts.
  8. Eating in restaurants or getting takeout. Because we rarely splurge on restaurant food, it’s a huge treat when it happens. We used to eat out a lot before we had kids and when the kids were young. It wasn’t something to be savored and looked forward to, because it was usually a last minute decision based on zero meal planning. We were out of control. My mother and father take me out for lunch somewhat frequently, which makes me feel kind of guilty, but I know they can afford it and enjoy being able to do it for me.

Four Ways That We Spend Out

  1. We have always said “yes” when it came to paying sports fees and miscellaneous lessons. Both kids participated in inexpensive recreational soccer from kindergarten through the end of high school. But my younger son has a passion for soccer, so we started him in club soccer in high school, which costs $1000 a year plus tournament fees and uniforms. My older son does Cross-fit which is also expensive. If either son started complaining about having to go or making excuses, we would cut this expenditure, but that has yet to happen.
  2. Private Japanese tutoring. Both of our sons were part of a Japanese immersion program that’s through our public school. However, neither my husband nor I speak more than a few words of Japanese and are completely unable to help the kids with their homework. So when they advanced to a level that was truly difficult, we didn’t bat an eye to paying for weekly private tutoring that run $20 to $25 a session. Without this supplementation to their education, I have no doubt that my sons would have fallen behind to a point where they’d have to leave the program. And when my older son graduated last year, I noticed that he was one of only two boys who didn’t have a native Japanese speaker at home.
  3. Trips to Japan. My older son has traveled to Japan for class trips in 5th, 8th and 10th grade, and my younger son went for the 8th and 10th grade trips. My husband chaperoned a 5th grade trip, while I chaperoned an 8th grade trip. None of this was cheap. But we knew the trips were coming up, so we set money aside for them. And the experiences we’ve all had by getting to know the culture and having the opportunity to stay with host families has been life changing. Worth every penny.
  4. Soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer, soccer. My husband and younger son are obsessed with soccer, whether it’s supporting The Portland Timbers or their favorite European teams. They have season tickets in the Timber’s Army general seating area, and have traveled up to Seattle to attend games. We have cable TV with a sports package simply so that my husband and son can watch international games, and my husband cycles to work and back to offset the cost. I’ve been to a couple games, but it’s just not my thing. Seriously. Hated it. Wanted the fans to stop yelling so much. So yeah, not a fan of attending games in person. 😉

Other than these categories, we really don’t loosen our purse strings that often. We have one son in college right now who lives at home and will likely move out next year. We need our money so that he can graduate without massive student loan debt, and without keeping an eye on the pennies, the dollars would have dissipated into the mist.

Do you have ways in which you’re super cheap, yet spend out for what’s important in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Although I completed this campaign dresser project last summer, I somehow hadn’t posted about it yet. Why? Because I felt the after photo needed to be super cute and styled, like a real decor blogger would do. Except that the reason I bought this sturdy behemoth of a dresser in the first place was because we needed a place to put our 165-pound bedroom TV. Yes, it’s a flat screen, yes it’s high definition, but it sure as hell isn’t lightweight. But guess what? It was free, so I have nothing to complain about!

The TV had been on a rolling metro shelving unit that my husband hobbled together, but I was always crashing into it in the darkness of night. (My husband was working a 3 A.M. to 3 P.M. shift and consequently went to bed hours and hours before me.) I hated it. I wanted a low sturdy dresser to put the apparently hostile TV on once and for all!

So when I came across this $19.99 Goodwill dresser, my DIY crafty self kicked into gear. It wasn’t much to look at, but I’d come across some cute painted campaign dressers on the internet, but I just could’t get over the hideous wood finish.

Goodwill campaign dresser

Check out the tacky splatter finish and raised grain. The dresser was proudly marked as being manufactured in 1973, and it showed.

Hideous wood treatment

The dresser had nice tight dovetail drawers and an extremely sturdy frame, but was unapologetically outdated. However, it was a quality piece of furniture, so I took my photos and went home to mull it over.

Dovetail drawer

I did an internet search for “painted campaign dressers” and fell into a deep well of love and beauty. So adorable, so cheerful, so . . . dare I say it?

On trend.

Painted campaign dressers

So I drove back to Goodwill and popped that bad boy into the back of my minivan. And when I got it home I discovered a stack of price tags all the way up to $39.99.

Katy likes a bargain.

Goodwill price drops

I also found this medallion for “Hickory Manufacturing, since 1911″ in one of the drawers, which I thought was very charming.

Hickory Manufacturing medallion

I already have a fair amount of color in my bedroom, so I decided to paint it a neutral color, and this pot of grey paint hit the spot. I highly recommend the Habitat ReStores as a great place to begin any search for project supplies. Not only was this half-gallon of paint priced at $2, but I was able to put something to use that would otherwise have been wasted.

Habitate ReStore paint

Of course, the fun part of this project was shining up the brasswork. I could have made things easy for myself and bought brass polisher, but I wanted to try what I already had on hand. Like catsup and toothpaste. It took a lot of elbow grease, but it was still an enjoyable job. One thing I messed up on was soaking it overnight in the catsup. This was a problem because although some parts were solid brass, the dangly-handle bit turned out to just be brass plated. Not a terrible mistake, but still not my shining moment.

Shining brass pulls

Look at what a difference shiny brass makes!

Drawer pulls both shined and unsigned

Since this project was done during the summer, it was no big deal to set up in the backyard and sand the wood down to a buttery smoothness. Apparently I even used some wood caulk for some reason that now escapes me.

Sanding the dresser

In the end I painted on one coat of primer plus two coats of paint. I then asked on my neighborhood Facebook page if anyone had any polyurethane collecting dust in their basement, and my next door neighbor gave me an almost empty can which was exactly enough to complete the project.

I also reglued and sanded down the left-side middle drawer which somehow didn’t fit right.

So pretty, right?

Painted campaign dresser

And here it is holding our gargantuan television set, which serves to broadcast high-kicking-low-scoring soccer games to my husband, and crap-TV to a certain someone who likes a little distraction while folding laundry. (Plus of course, an accidental selfie.)

TV campaign dresser

And here it is with the honking huge TV cropped out of the photo:

Campaign dresser

My plan had been to style it with attractive doo-dads for a blog-worthy photo op, but my husband was so pleased with the finished project that he set the TV on it before I got my tuchus in gear. Oh well . . .

The total cost for this project was $22. Yes it took some work, but all of it was enjoyable, and I’d rather spend my time bringing something back to life than most anything else in the world.

And now I can maneuver throughout my bedroom without fear of injury, day or night! Which is really all that matters.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 5, 2015 · 32 comments

Goodwill wine glasses

    1. My husband’s iPhone 5 was losing battery power quickly, so he ordered a new battery kit from iFixit.com and was able to replace by himself. The cost was $25 using a $5-off coupon and it took around fifteen minutes from start to finish.
    2. My husband and younger son went to a Portland Timbers soccer game last night, so I used the Redbox code PLKMP982 to rent the movie The Theory of Everything for my older son and I to watch. (An excellent movie which I highly recommend.)  This is the second time I’ve used this code, which is reusable and doesn’t expire until April 30th! It’s good for a one night DVD rental, but is just for the Redbox.com website or their app. (Does not work at the machines themselves.)
    3. My husband and I have started to drive our new 2007 Toyota Prius hybrid for all in town errands, and we’re looking forward to a seeing a lovely decrease in our gasoline expenditures. We do still love our 2005 Honda Odyssey, but it’s not the most fuel efficient vehicle.
    4. I took some extra wine glasses and junk jewelry to my local consignment shop and was given $11.40 in cash, which went into my sons’ college fund. I was a bit nervous about getting rid of perfectly good wine glasses, but a quick perusal of the wine glass aisle at Goodwill assured me that I can easily and inexpensively replace any broken ones by thrifting.
    5. Aside from food, I have yet to buy anything in 2015. I have used a few on hand gift cards here and there, but otherwise there’s been nothing that I’ve felt the need to spend money on. Actually, I did buy a pair of $1 reading glasses a few weeks ago, but I’m going to count that as a medical expense. :-)

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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TurboTax Giveaway!

by Katy on April 3, 2015 · 56 comments

This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Alanna and Alice who won!

turbotax

I’m very particular about which companies I promote on the blog. I get daily offers from companies that want to partner with The Non-Consumer Advocate, and I turn down 99% of them. Because seriously, what kind of hypocrite would I be to write a blog about not buying new and unnecessary stuff and then turn around to stamp my name on endless consumer goods?

But I always feel good about lending my name to Intuit’s TurboTax. My husband and I use them to prepare our taxes, and as much as I would love to not spend money on taxes, I do love schools, libraries, paved roads, disaster relief, public transportation, and properly maintained infrastructure. (You know, the good things that our tax dollars pay for.)

And that’s why I reached out to TurboTax to set up a giveaway. We used to hire an expensive accountant to do our taxes. This was leftover from when my husband ran his own commercial photo studio and needed to depreciate his equipment, and the job was over his head. But I finally convinced him to at least try doing our own taxes. We haven’t looked back. Our taxes are complicated by my extra income (and expenses) from cleaning my mother’s guest cottages and running a certain little blog. But that’s no issue with TurboTax, which gently walks us through the finicky stuff.

Today I have two different online packages to give away. One Deluxe and one Premier version. (Which will include both the federal and state filing.)

TurboTax

To enter to win, all you have to do is write your name in the comments section of the blog. I will randomly choose the winners on Sunday, April 5th at 9 P.M. PST. Winners will be provided with product codes.

Good luck, and happy taxing! I wish only refunds for all!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Disclosure: I was provided with Turbotax Premier for review in conjunction with this blog post. This did not influence my opinion.

{ 56 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on April 2, 2015 · 31 comments

Hispano Moresque tile table

  1. I spent a few hours over at my mother’s house yesterday helping her go through some things at the back of her kitchen, which also serves as an office space. We were easily able to consolidate and declutter, and the time went by quickly as I mercilessly teased my mother about her massive numbers of binder clips of every shape, size and pattern. (The tiny ones are so cute!) An antique tiled coffee table was under the desk, and when I asked her about it, she told me to take it for resale. I brought it home and quickly put together a Craigslist post, which I shared on The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group. A savvy reader quickly identified it as Hispano Moresque style, which helped me to identify the era, which makes it from the late 1920’s to early 1930’s. I haven’t received any offers on it yet, but when I do I’ll stash the money in yes . . . my sons’ college fund. (I’m 6.2% tempted to keep the table, but it’s a bit too pattern heavy for a room that already has a lot of pattern.)
  2. My mother also sent me home with a large glass canister and an untouched iPhone4 accessories set. Hooray for an extra charger and set of earbuds! The jar’s rubber gasket was completely dried out and brittle, but my friend Lise says she has an extra one to share.
  3. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet yesterday after dropping my son at school. Although it was only 8:30 A.M., the parking lot was full and the store was hopping. I was a bit confused until I realized that it was Senior Day, and they were giving out Bingo cards to win store gift cards. I didn’t take a card, but I did win at finding some great deals such as big bags of 69¢ onions, 99¢ tomatoes, and 99¢ organic bananas. I also bought more 8/$1 schwanky Müller brand yogurts and pretty much everything I need for my sons’ Easter baskets. (Lindt chocolate rabbits, Cadbury creme eggs and Peeps.) I still need to buy unshelled peanuts in place of nasty plastic Easter grass, and jelly beans for the plastic eggs.
  4.  I was able to make 14 jars of jam from two large containers of Costco strawberries. And when I went to Fred Meyer to buy the pectin, it was on sale for 80¢ down from $1.99. Since I was making freezer jam, there was no boiling the filled jars and buying of brand new lids. And I got to use whatever jars I had on hand, including this wee lassie. (Shh . . . she’s napping.)Tiny jam
  5. My husband and younger son are going to a Portland Timbers soccer game, so I’m making sure to have an early dinner planned out so they won’t be tempted to get takeout. Tonight’s dinner will be a chicken noodle soup, using the leftover bones from last night’s dinner, plus a couple of added drumsticks from the freezer. It’s all in the crock pot for now, which means I can come and go from the house without worrying about the risk of leaving a simmering pot on the stove.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 31 comments }

Free Axe body spray

As the Non-Consumer Advocate, I’ve had many years to hone my superior skills. I shop the thrifts, minimize my garbage output and take full advantage of frugal shopping opportunities. But you’re not me, so you might be doing things all wrong.

How do you know if you’re nailing this whole non-consumer thing?

1) You’re smart about using coupons, especially when that item is already on sale. Even if it means spending all day driving from store to store (to store) to snap up all the great deals. A basement full of neatly arranged Axe body sprays is a sign that you’re well on your way to non-consumer perfection!

2) You’re very mindful about choosing a zero waste lifestyle, and have taken the important step of canceling your curbside garbage pickup. Instead, you bag up your garbage and drop it in the bins at work or use the cloak of night to add to your neighbor’s cans. You care about the environment and should brag about your accomplishments whenever possible. Every awkward silence is an opportunity to spread the word.

3) Just because you’re a non-consumer doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. You know to schedule dates with friends in fancy restaurants. But you’re on an enviable budget, so you order water and a small appetizer instead of an entree. Then it’s just a matter of sneaking bites from your friends while asking the waiter to “keep the bread basket coming!” And when it’s time to figure out the gratuity, you bring up how Europeans don’t tip and that you’re a “Francophile.”

4) You’re such a non-consumer that you could’t be paid to step foot into a mall. Instead you haunt the thrift stores for bargains galore. And when no one’s looking, you switch tags to get a better deal. Who are these thrift stores to charge so much for donated goods in the first place? It’s not like they paid for their inventory! Sure they have overhead like paying their lease and their employees, but the humane society, homeless people or whatever other ridiculous charitable organization that’s getting funds from the store don’t understand how you’re a non-consumer, and on a mission to break free from the shackles of capitalism!

5) Your house is filled to the rafters with amazing stuff you got for free. Other people might throw away perfectly good old newspapers, broken plastic chairs and rain soaked plaid couches, but you’re a true non-consumer who sees potential where others see nothing. Sure, your house is hard to navigate and your friends and family keep staging interventions, but they’re just consumer drones who follow the mindless American practice of giving up on inanimate objects. C’mon sheeple, open your eyes!

Are you following my all important non-consumer practices? Excellent! Now go pull a gold star from the garbage and flaunt your superiority to the world.

I’m so very proud of you!

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 31, 2015 · 20 comments

Found change

Sorry about yesterday’s blog glitch. I had upgraded my hosting to accommodate increased traffic, which then created a domino effect that caused my blog to go offline on a day that I did not have time to sit down and troubleshoot computer issues that I barely understand. I was tempted to tap my old pals at WPFixit who will fix any WordPress problem for $39, but wanted to at least try on my own first. Thankfully I was able to work with Site Ground, (my current hosting company) Dreamhost, (my old hosting company) and WordPress, (my blogging platform) to get things straightened out. Somehow my last two blog posts have disappeared, plus one I had yet to publish. But I’ll deal with that later. Right now I have laundry to fold and strawberry jam to make.

Five Frugal Things

  1. My husband I finally finally bought a car to replace our beloved Subaru Outback that was totaled back in November. Our new car is a 2007 Prius, and we were able to keep the price low enough to pay for it using cash. It has a number of driver’s side dings, but I ordered a touch-up paint kit from Amazon using Swagbucks gift cards. Hooray for a second car for my family of four, and a double-hooray for not taking on a new car payment!
  2. When going to the credit union to withdraw money for the car, I made sure to sweep my hand under the coin counting machine. I was rewarded with $2.10 in quarters and nickels, which I dropped into my Found Change Challenge jar.
  3. I sold my son’s middle school saxophone through Craigslist. The $350 I received was directly added to my sons’ college fund, which helps to salve the pain of removing $700 for last quarter’s pointless health insurance. Plus, I got the attention of the neighbor ladies by entertaining a couple of handsome hipsters, who gave me a groovy jazz concert right on my front porch. Oh yeah . . .  mama’s got game! 😉
  4. I brought home the newest New Yorker magazine from a local Little Free Library.
  5. I made French bread from scratch last night, said “no” to my son who wanted an unnecessary haircut, brought home milks, eggs and butter left by guest cottage tenants, drank tap water and tea, filled up the gas tank with Costco gasoline, went to the Dave’s Killer Bread outlet to buy a dozen loaves for $1.99 each instead of $5, was gifted a fancy treat as a thank you for feeding the neighbor’s cats and bought absolutely nothing unnecessary.

Now your turn What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 20 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 27, 2015 · 32 comments

Thrifty reading

  1. I took my younger son to Ikea yesterday as someone had left a brand new, still in package Ikea duvet cover at one of my mother’s guest cottages, and we were never able to figure out whose it was. At first I thought I should sell it, but then I realized that I could simply return it, which I did for a groovy $20 in store credit. We also dropped off dead batteries and CFL lightbulbs, and hit up the cafeteria. My son tucked into a rare treat of chicken strips and fries and I chose a $1.99 bowl of minestrone soup, which was quite satisfying. I got a free cup of coffee using my Ikea Family card, and then we walked back to the car. I’ll save the store credit for a time when there’s something I actually need.
  2. My mother gave me a $5 Fred Meyer gift card as a thank you for helping with her guest cottages. I was able to use it to buy two 18-packs of eggs and a half-gallon of milk. Gotta love those loss leader sales!
  3. I told my neighbor who’d been giving me her day-old NY Times newspapers that I couldn’t accept them anymore. I appreciated her generosity, but the stacked up newspapers were causing me too much stress, as I felt I needed to read each one before recycling. I gave her a jar of homemade applesauce as a thank you, and can now breathe a sigh of relief. I restarted my two day a week Oregonian subscription as they gave me a two month deal for $12.99, which included a $5 Fred Meyer gift card.
  4. Although my kids have been on spring break all week, yesterday was the first non-rainy day. I’d wanted to go out and do fun stuff, but my son just wanted to hang out at home. I took that as an opportunity to lie down on my thrifted porch couch and read library books. I do feel bad that we’ve done nothing exciting all week, (especially since we went to Washington D.C. and New York last year) but my older son had lifeguarding classes until today, and my husband has been working almost every day.
  5. I made a pretty floral arrangement using weedy garden flowers, my son wore soccer field picked pony tail holders in his hair all week, I used up an entire bunch of cilantro by storing it upright in a water glass, we ate leftovers, I brought home guest cottage food, I listed a few things on Craigslist and I enjoyed simple evenings at home with my family.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to? 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on March 25, 2015 · 48 comments

Old rice

  1. I broke the handle off this Fiestaware sugar bowl a few years ago, and then pushed it to the back of the cupboard with full intent to glue it back together. (Since it was a clean break, I knew that a tiny bit of epoxy glue would bring it back to life.) One barrier to the project was that the bowl would need to stand on its side while the glue dried, despite the second intact handle. But then I realized that the super crappy rice that I keep on hand for drying out electronics would work perfectly for the job. (This rice is so truly awful, I will only eat it in an apocalypse situation.) So now the sugar bowl  has come back to life and my after-the-zombies-come rice has one again saved the day!
  2. I gave my used newspaper and bread bags to my father for scooping his dogs’s poop, and then I gave two small vials of Subaru specific paint to my mother’s friend. (She and I had the same color Subarus, but since ours was totaled, we no longer had need for the paint.)
  3. I’m planning a dinner tonight to try and recreate the Brian’s Bowl from my favorite restaurant, ¿Porqué No? I’ve already started pinto beans in the crock pot, and plan on scaring up some additional tasty tidbits to spice things up. This will be the perfect way to use up some random ingredients while also making a special meal for my family.
  4. My son is taking a weeklong lifeguard certification class that’s from 1 P.M. – 9 P.M. The students are told to “bring snacks.” (Umm . . . don’t they mean “bring meals?”) Instead of packing food from home we’re just stopping by Subway each day for a footlong sandwich, which is actually cheaper than it would be to pack the amount of food that a 19-year-old man would eat during those hours. And easier, so much easier . . .
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to? 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Better Than Before

My review copy of Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before came in yesterday’s mail, and despite having a busy day on my plate, I did carve out some time to start the book. Although I’m only 12 pages into the book so far, it’s already started me thinking about what my habits are and how they effect my life. I don’t perceive myself as an especially self-disciplined person, but I realize don’t give myself enough credit for the good habits that I do have.

Rubin writes that “habits are the invisible architecture of daily life” and that “habits make change possible by freeing us from decision making and from using self control,” which rings true to me. If a person establishes a habit, then they’re able to get through a task (or avoid a behavior) without having to exert self control, and thus that self control is available for something else later in the day. Habits are automatic, whether they’re good or bad.

Here’s an example. I always fold my laundry as soon as it’s out of the dryer (or off the clothesline.) Always. It doesn’t even occur to me to do one without the other. But since it’s so automatic, I don’t pat myself on the back for doing something that would require motivation. It’s a single mindless task. But I know many people see the chore of removing laundry from the dryer and folding it as two separate tasks, which then requires self-discipline to complete.

The emptying the dryer + folding task is a habit to me, therefore it doesn’t get procrastinated.

Habits are less likely to be procrastinated.

I’ll be writing more about Better Than Before as I move past page twelve, and I’ll even be hosting a giveaway for a copy of the book. But right now I need to go put water on for tea and start a load of laundry. Because that’s part of my morning habit.

Have you given thought to your habits and how they influence you? Do you have a hard time establishing new habits? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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